Cold stress adversely affects plant growth and development. Most temperate plants acquire freezing tolerance by a process called cold acclimation. Here, we focus on recent progress in transcriptional, post-transcriptional and post-translational regulation of gene expression that is critical for cold acclimation. Transcriptional regulation is mediated by the inducer of C-repeat binding factor (CBF) expression 1 (ICE1), the CBF transcriptional cascade and CBF-independent regulons during cold acclimation. ICE1 is negatively regulated by ubiquitination-mediated proteolysis and positively regulated by SUMO (small ubiquitin-related modifier) E3 ligase-catalyzed sumoylation. Post-transcriptional regulatory mechanisms, such as pre-mRNA splicing, mRNA export and small RNA-directed mRNA degradation, also play important roles in cold stress responses.